Commandos Want Mercenaries to Guard (Another) Afghan Base
The military’s elite warriors aren’t exactly the kind of people you’d think require protection from hired Afghan hands. But U.S. Special Operations Command wants to put the safety of one of its remote Afghanistan outposts in their hands. Again.
A solicitation released Monday from the U.S. Special Operations Command seeks a contractor to patrol and protect the perimeter of a Special Operations “village security platform” — i.e., base — in the southern Uruzgan province village of Gizab. Three-quarters of the hired guard force have to come from within 50 kilometers [31 miles] of the base. Their job: make sure no one who’s not authorized gets inside a location housing some of the troops who go on nightly raids to take down Taliban leaders.
It’s part of a recent trend in site security for special-ops bases. In March, the command put out solicitations for sell-sword guards at 10 such bases around Afghanistan. (Among the prohibitions the guards will face: no torture or corpse mutilation on any captured Afghans.) And recently, the command has been hot to use mercenaries down at the village-security-platform, or VSP, level, bases manned by just a few commandos — places where a large guard force can be uncomfortably conspicuous.
Chances are, that recent trend is borne out of necessity. Special Operations Forces are on a breakneck pace in Afghanistan. From June 2010 to June 2011, they launched a staggering 1,700 raids in Afghanistan just during nighttime, designed to put extreme pressure on the Taliban. With such heavy demand for raiding, there aren’t that many commandos free to perform sentry duty.
Alas, hiring guards to protect U.S. bases in Afghanistan doesn’t exactly have a great track record. A Senate inquiry last year found rival warlords and Taliban sympathizers littered amongst the guards protecting several large bases housing conventional forces. Not exactly the kind of guys you’d want watching the backs of troops tasked to perform some of the Afghanistan war’s most crucial missions.
For all I care they pay some Eastern European country to send soldiers, but it is just morally wrong to have it done be mercenaries, and at a price premium as well! How long before they start finding "irregularities" in the accountability of the funding and how long before the mercenaries start massacring and/or raping civilians again? Yes, we do need to be reminded of Blackwater/Xe.